With the increasing demand for healthier functional foods, we are glad to see startups step forth and take on this challenge to find innovative ways to contribute to the society’s demand. In Singapore’s first HIC, we have invited distinguished speakers from Singapore and Japan to introduce their technologies and products to everyone. Below will be the summary of their technology and vision.
Keynote speaker: Mr. Alan Phua
For centuries, diabetes poses a serious threat worldwide. Passionate to solve this critical issue, Mr. Alan Phua and his partner set out to find a solution. He shared with the audience on the previous work done by other researchers on reducing sugar spikes; although effective, they have a shortcoming of altering the taste and texture of our most beloved refined carbohydrates. Therefore, his team conducted experiments at the University of Sydney, to not only achieve the most important issue of reducing sugar spikes from carbohydrate intake, but also one that does not change the texture and taste of the food. They found 5iberPlus, a powder made using plant ingredients. Incorporating a mere 9% of their product into rice grains, the results showed a lowered glycemic index. Importantly, he shared with us a video of an interview with a grandma who commented that the modified rice tastes no difference from the usual rice she takes. The interview presented a strong evidence to the success of Alchemy Foodtech’s 5iberPlus applied as a modified refined carbohydrate accepted by people from all ages. This is definitely one world-changing invention and I hope to see its incorporation into more product to tackle diabetes.
Speaker: Dr. Ritu Bhalla
Formulation and Nutrition Science (FANS) in Republic Polytechnic (RP) work with 3 main pillars of food formulation, drug delivery systems and agrotechnology for nutrient rich produce and isolation of metabolic compounds. Dr. Ritu Bhalla kindly shared with us on the functional food market, key trends in 2019, and the key focus area and capabilities of FANS. She introduced us to the commercialized product by FANS and their industry partners. To name a few, she presented food products that are high in whole grains and fibers while lowering the sugar content and glycemic index, natural beverages rich in anti-oxidants or modified (healthier) traditional Chinese medicine drinks, and ice cream with prebiotics and probiotics! The list of mouth-watering inventions goes on, all either commercialized or ready to introduce to the consumer market. She went on to present the audience to their indoor agrotechnology lab, installed with various technologies to make farming easier. It was definitely a fun presentation to listen to, and my biggest takeaway is that nothing is impossible with creativity and imagination. From her presentation, I can see the future in consumable food, and I hope to see another revolutionary product from FANS by RP. Who knows if another food that can tackle various diseases will be in our near future?
Speaker: Mr. Aaron Wong
Upon opening a package of tofu, you will notice the tofu submerged in a liquid. The liquid, which I now know, is called soy whey. For every unit of soy bean used to manufacture tofu, nine units of soy whey is produced. Imagine the amount of waste by-product created per year from the manufacturing of Asia’s staple! Soy whey gets disposed of due to the lack of usage from further processing although still rich in nutrients. Recognizing this issue, Sinfoo Tech sets out to tackle this problem, and out came SACHI, a soy whey-based beverage. Their solution solves the issue with food wastage and disposal, ensuring a zero waste process. The soy whey alcohol has a nice fragrance and a surprisingly fruity flavor (in my opinion, similar to apple cider alcohol), that feels smooth on the tongue. Who would have thought that soy whey can produce such fruity-floral product from their original beany taste? This invention can definitely be a great hit and I can imagine the popularity it can induce with alcohol consumers worldwide!
Speaker: Ms. Lina Sakai
Japanese are moving away from their used-to-staple, rice. This posed a problem with the rice farm economy with less demands for their supply. In an attempt to tackle this rising concern, Fermenstation vision to increase contribution of rice to our daily lives. Using their popular traditional sake brewing techniques passed down through generations, they fermented rice into ethanol and other products. Fermenstation is able to produce highly pure ethanol and supply them to personal care and fragrance industries. The by-product from the ethanol productions function as beauty product ingredients or as animal feed. As the rice are grown in an environment with no agrochemicals and fertilizers, it helps to addresses the pressing problem of animals being fed with chemicals unfavourful for humans’ consumption! It is one neat idea and their purpose to create a sustainable society is heartwarming. I will be electrified if they plan to bring Fermenstation to Singapore!
Panelist discussion: Dr. Kihoko Tokue, Mr. Alan Phua, Dr. Ritu Bhalla & Mr. Aaron Wong
To conclude the session, the panelist discussion allowed the audience and Dr. Kihoko Tokue to exchange opinions with the respective speakers on their views and ideas on the current food issues. This exchange of knowledge gave the audience a good idea of their general view and where the future food for our next generation can head towards. This session also addressed the foreseeable challenges and the population’s reluctance to change. All in all, the internationalization of science and technologies will greatly benefit human worldwide. We are pumped and looking forward to the new inventions created by talents globally.